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Curtin University
W.A. Centre for Evidence Informed Healthcare Practice

Systematic Reviews

Systematic Reviews in Progress

Parents' and families' experiences of care by health care professionals in the hospital setting following perinatal death: A systematic review

Over 7 million perinatal deaths occur worldwide each year of which approximately 1,400 stillbirths and 800 neonatal deaths occur within Australia. The death of a baby during the perinatal period is a profound experience for parents and families. The effects of perinatal death may be associated with adverse mental health with complicated or traumatic grief, depression, post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety occurring in both mothers and fathers. Symptoms of traumatic grief are associated with risk for other mental and physical health problems including suicide and myocardial infarction. Subsequent pregnancies can also be affected, with anxiety and prenatal attachment for both parents being reported. Differences in grief responses are also evident between mothers and fathers.

Many initiatives have been implemented to assist parents and families to reduce adverse outcomes from the experience of perinatal loss and several systematic reviews of the research literature in regard to perinatal death have been undertaken. However, these reviews have not provided sufficient direction on which to base practice. This systematic review will build on those done previously by including studies other than randomised controlled trials, those undertaken outside of America and will include studies that looked at the psychological effects of perinatal deaths on fathers.

The overall objective is to determine from the best available evidence, the impact of care and/or support provided by health care professionals in the hospital setting on parents and families following a perinatal death.

Interventions or phenomena of interest include any study that investigates a link between any supportive measures provided by health care professionals, including but not limited to:

  • Emotional Support
  • Maternal/Physical care
  • Baby Care
  • Statutory Requirements
  • Spiritual Care
  • Social Support
  • Education
  • Communication

The outcomes that are of interest include:

  • Grief, bereavement, depression, anxiety, stress
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Social adjustment/impact
  • Satisfaction with care; helpful behaviours
  • Effects on subsequent pregnancies

For information and enquiries about this review contact:

Dr Angela Fielding ( or email: Phone 08 9266 2068

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